Two days ago we had the first measurable rain for 4 weeks. The lack of rainfall alone wouldn’t be so much of a problem were it not associated with very cold north easterly winds and some severe night frosts, down to -2 deg for a couple of nights last week. Crops have begun to suffer and although by the time this goes to press the weather is set to warm up there’s still not much sign of rain on the horizon.
Consequently I have cut right back on fungicide inputs on the winter cereal crops. T2 fungicides are going on after a 4 week gap and are largely consisting of 60% – 70% dose triazole (epoxiconazole) plus chlorothalonil. I have never used less specific mildewicide on wheat crops than I have this year. Winter barleys have been put to bed with as little as 50% dose prothiaconazole/fluoxystrobin mixes. If we get a drippy June I might get egg on my face with the barley, at least I can adjust a T3 rate on the wheats.
Some spring beans have been severely hammered by pea and bean weevil, having been sprayed twice since emergence and still suffering. Hopefully they will respond to the forecast warm weather and grow away from it.
I have seen frost damage to winter beans and winter rape. Cabernet is being talked about as the worst affected but I have seen crops of Vision and Excel just as bad.
Although the cold has brought its problems, at least we’re not chasing disease. Given the choice, I’d rather deal with the weather conditions we’ve had this year than those we had in 2007 after a very mild winter. Let’s hope I can repeat that statement in 6 – 8 weeks time.